Yes they are. Would you believe it? The Rolling Stones are playing the du Arena in Abu Dhabi tonight!. Yes tonight! Friday 21st February 2014 – which should be about the same time the rest of Britain will be watching Holby City. Are they crazy? Have they lost the will to live? Doing a gig in Abu Dhabi these days is like doing a gig in Europe in the middle of World War I. There might be a temporary ceasefire, but how long will this one last? Who is doing their security I wonder? Pray to God it’s not the Hell’s Angels.
But, crazy or not, they’re still doing it, as this video attests:
So how will that go then I wonder? Mick Jagger and the boys in the middle of the battlefield of what could still turn out to be the war to end all wars – Armageddon and Apocalypse in other words – with Mick introducing himself as the Devil while Keef, Charlie and Ronnie whip-up a blitzkrieg behind him and the bodies continue to stink.
Last summer, when they played Glastonbury for money and topped it off with an anniversary performance in Hyde Park, the question was: Won’t they just be an embarrassment? Shouldn’t they know when to quit?
I’m sure the Stones thought that too. But they set out to answer that question as they have always done. Not by discussing it at great length or mounting a massive promotion campaign (there are plenty of others willing to do those things for them) – but by putting on a Gig!
Those of us who watched their progress last summer with baited breath, unable to believe that four old crumbly oxygen thieves who wouldn’t look out of place in wheelchairs, could still Rock ‘n Roll, were in for a bit of a shock.
The BBC and the Guardian affected their usual cynical detachment, but in the end even they had to concede defeat:
The final stretch is simply staggering. During Sympathy for the Devil the scrap-metal phoenix at the top of the stage raises its wings and spurts jets of fire, while flares in the middle of the crowd produce suitably infernal red smoke. You Can’t Always Get What You Want, with its soaring choir, is hugely moving, an anthem to acceptance which draws celebration from resignation. A raucous, extended Satisfaction sounds like one of rock music’s holy relics. It drives home the realisation that the most patiently pursued headliners in Glastonbury’s history have finally made it, and they’re right here in front of us, and they’re very, very good.Dorian Lynskey, Rolling Stones at Glastonbury 2013, The Guardian, Sunday 30 June 2013 01.03 BST.
So there we have it. It’s on the record. It’s official. From the Guardian no less. The Rolling Stones aren’t just staggering through it. Against all the odds, a gang of 70 year old pensioners who really ought to be dribbling away in care homes can still Rock ‘N Roll.
But wait, it gets worse. They can’t just Rock ‘N Roll. The last stretch wasn’t just masterful or magnificent, it was “simply staggering“. And they’re not just good, or even very good, they’re “very, very good“.
In a nutshell then, the Rolling Stones aren’t just dribbling away their days, they’ve matured in a most remarkable way. They’re not just good, they’re actually better than they ever were! They’re still going from-strength-to-strength. They’re now so good they put everyone else – ye even including Sir Cliff and Sir Paul and Sir Tom and Sir Elton – to Shame! And the kiddies don’t like it you know Captain Mannering, Sir. Oh no they don’t! They want their revenge. They want to shovel shit on the Stones’ parade. Which they do, in JCB-loads, in the comments section underneath the review, which the Guardians have kindly provided for this purpose.
So how do the Stones handle that? Well, a week later they’re out in Hyde Park doing it all over again.
“The presentation is stunning,”raves The Guardian. Any “qualms” had to be “swallowed” under “the explosive force of Midnight Rambler (with added Mick Taylor) or Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.
Explosive force? What, from a bunch of 70 year old geriatrics? How on earth do they do that? What’s their secret? How much longer can it last?
Those who are interested in answers to those questions might find some of them in this documentary film here:
So is Mick Jagger The Devil? He certainly effects the pose, and he’s certainly made a bundle out of it, and plenty of people are still prepared to pay handsomely to be there when he does it.
Me, I don’t know why, but every time I think of Mick Jagger I can’t help thinking of Tony Blair, and vice versa. Why is that I wonder?
That would be an interesting exam question: Tony Blair and Mick Jagger. Compare and contrast! (Hint: They both like explosions. No doubt about that!)